Hadley board nixes bids for Village Hall, solicits new ones

  • The North Hadley Village Hall, at 239 River Drive, was built in 1864. GAZETTE FILE PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

Staff Writer
Saturday, September 07, 2019

HADLEY — The Select Board has rejected two bids from private developers to renovate the North Hadley Village Hall, in part because the proposals would need to use a connected ballfield that is on permanently protected land.

The board Wednesday voted unanimously to turn down a $70,000 bid for the 239 River Drive property from Peter Heronemus of Hadley and a $50,000 bid from Historic Renovations and Rental Properties Ltd., managed by Joel Greenbaum of Amherst, until town attorney KP Law can give officials an opinion on whether the protected property can be used in any way by a private developer, including parking on an as-needed basis for events.

Although the bids were turned down, a new advertisement for the property will be issued next week, with the next round of bids due Sept. 26. The Select Board has set a plan to dispose of the property by the end of the year if viable redevelopment projects do not emerge. 

The stumbling block remains that Town Meeting opted against removing the land protection under Article 97 of the state Constitution.

Heronemus told the board that he can’t see anything happening to the building without access to the lawn between the building and North Hadley Congregational Church, as there is not enough green space on the rest of the property.

“You’ll be living in an asphalt world,” Heronemus said.

Heronemus said he wouldn’t rebid if the ballfield can’t be attached in a permanent way, noting that his proposal is an expensive project. “It’s a very large undertaking,” Heronemus said.

His proposal would convert the first floor of the 1864 building, last used as the offices for the Park and Recreation Department and the North Hadley branch library, into an open space music hall, where concerts and other events could be staged, and the upstairs into three apartments. An addition, which has been used as a fire substation, would be turned into a workshop.

“I think the building could shine again,” he said.

Board member John Waskiewicz said selling it to the highest bidder, no matter how low the bid, might be the best option, as it will cost $60,000 to $90,000 to demolish the building.

“I don’t want to see it knocked down, quite honestly,” Waskiewicz said.

Residents, though, gave the go-ahead to tear it down in a nonbinding vote.

The future of the building brings mixed feelings for Martha Boisvert, a longtime North Hadley resident.

“For me, it would be more heartbreaking to see it used as apartments or whatever than it would be to tear it down and just look at North Hadley Pond,” Boisvert said.

But Alan Weinberg, who lives on Bay Road, said the value would be less if the building is gone.

“You may get more open space, but it’s not waterfront space,” Weinberg said.

Scott Merzbach can be reached at smerzbach@gazettenet.com.